Right now, at this point in your life, what questions do you ask yourself? Is there one particular question that haunts you? What I’m getting at is what question or questions do you have about yourself, your life, your place in the world? What questions lead you to the deepest self-discovery, help others discover you, and bring you to a place of definition and clarity? This prompt calls for a fair amount of reflection and introspection, but its direction is simple. Write a poem about a question you ask yourself. Remember that this is a question about you, not about others or about anything else in the world. (You may choose to begin with a list of questions and narrow the choices to one or a few.)
Things to Think About Before Writing:
- Are there things you question about yourself (feelings, motivations, relationships, faith, responses to situations, ways of dealing with stresses).
- Are there things you feel others don’t understand about you?
- What’s the single biggest question you have?
- What question(s) do you think your spouse, partner, children, or closet friend might ask you?
- Because the poem is personal, there should be a sense of intimacy, but don’t let this become a confessional poem.
- Alternate questions with declarative sentences.
- Don’t over-tell.
- Avoid sentimentality.
- Use sound—“the music in it”— to enhance meaning (alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, off or near rhyme, onomatopoeia, dissonance, repetition).
- Remember that understatement and nuance can be more powerful than telling too much.